Pianist John Mulhern, better known as Johnny Lingo, brings a unique style to teaching piano in and around the East Side. Lessons are tailored to each student, and he almost never uses a book to teach. While reading music is important, “if you plan on becoming a musician or going to school,” Mulhern notes that “some of the greatest musicians never learned to read.” When working with eight to ten-year-olds, the goal is creating a fun environment and a “positive experience of learning music.”
The Northern New Jersey native moved to Providence after graduating from Connecticut College to be with his wife, Jennifer, who is from Barrington. He garnered local acclaim when his band, The Lingo, won first prize in the 2004 WBRU Rock Hunt. Opportunities started pouring in, and Mulhern believes The Lingo “really would have gone on to become a strong New England band,” but the bassist suddenly decided to go to graduate school, “so that was the end of that.”
Following the band’s dissolution, Mulhern wasn’t sure what to do next. In 2008, he answered a Craigslist ad for an after-school program in Riverside, working with four students. Then in 2009, Jennifer bought him a piano, and everything changed. As Mulhern was picking up the Kawai, the man selling it told him to “build a website.”
“It sounds stupid now, but that’s what he said,” says Mulhern. Once
EastSidePianoLessons.com officially launched, Mulhern became “really busy” with calls and emails. The after-school program had grown into more than 14 students, and he was getting referrals. “It was all kind of coming together.”
Now, the Johnny Lingo brand is stronger than ever, and teaching only fills part of Mulhern’s time; he regularly performs at weddings, ceremonies, and Christmas
parties, working as a “gun musician for hire.” When you factor in the couple’s twin three-year-olds, it’s impressive that Mulhern found time to release his new album, World We Have to Save, which he classifies as “piano rock” and recorded with session musicians at Machines With Magnets. Each June, he also performs duets with his students in an annual recital.
Mulhern enjoys living near Lippitt Park and frequenting favorite spots like the seasonal farmers market, Wildflour, Seven Stars, and Yoleni’s downtown. He is passionate about Providence’s many architecture anomalies as well as cryptocurrency, and has contemplated becoming a Bitcoin consultant for investing newcomers. Although he teaches primarily children, Mulhern is approached weekly by adults seeking lessons; interested readers should get in touch.
Visit EastSidePianoLessons.com for more.